LITTLE ROCK, AR - A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge has struck down the state's Method of Execution Act.
The action came this afternoon following a hearing over arguments in a lawsuit brought by nine inmates on Arkansas death row.
Their suit claims a 2013 law passed by the Arkansas General Assembly gives too broad authority to the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) when selecting drugs for lethal injection.
Circuit judge Wendell Griffen agreed with the plaintiffs.
The 2013 statute states the ADC can use any form of barbiturate needed to cause death. Lawmakers considered the language an improvement over a 2009 statute that gave the ADC discretion to execute inmates by whatever means decided by the department. The 2009 law was struck down three years later.
In his ruling from the bench, Griffen says the updated law allows the director of the ADC to decide which barbiturates to use without reasonable guidance from the legislature and without knowing if the barbiturate selected would even cause death to occur.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in a statement the state will appeal the ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
"This is yet another example of the practical and legal hurdles complicating our state's execution process," McDaniel says.
Arkansas has not executed an inmate since November 2005.